Skip to main content

Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

See other formats


THE SEVENTEENTH CENT CJRY             273

under two Acts for the Propagation of the GospeL (It is worthy
of note that a school was instituted under the Act at Sunderland
" to teach children to write and instruct them in arithmetique to
fitt them for the sea or other necessary callings.") It is not un-
likely that if the Puritan republic had succeeded in maintaining
its position a considerable part of the educational programme
of Hartlib and his friends would have been carried into effect.
But with the Restoration (1660) any chance there was of that
came to an end. The new government had no interest in education
beyond ensuring conformity to the Church of England on the part
of schoolmasters. So far as it had any ideals in the matter, they
were those that had come with Charles and his courtiers from
France; and these for the most part were too remote from
ordinary conditions to affect the schools. Yet though Puritanism
had suffered eclipse, it still remained a vital force, especially in
the private schools, which came into existence in considerable
numbers after the Act of Uniformity. Some of these, in ac-
cordance with the Baconian tradition, became specialized as
mathematical schools, navigation schools, or commercial schools.
More important still: the Puritan spirit found expression once
again in the last decade of the century, in a notable educational
work, through which much that was essential in its philosophy
of education could be carried on into the new age just ahead.
This was John Locke's Thoughts Concerning Education.

John Locke (1632-1704) was born in a little Somerset village
and passed the early years of his life under the care of a Puritan
father. From Westminster School, where he had the great
Richard Busby for his master, he passed to Christ Church,
Oxford, and there lectured for a time on Greek, rhetoric and
moral philosophy. But the reading of Descartes led to a revolt
not only against the scholasticism of Oxford but against the
narrow Puritan theology ; and he was glad to take the opportunity
afforded by the inheritance of his father's estate to devote himself
to experimental work in medicine. For a year or two he practised
as a doctor iji an amateur way, but did not complete his qualifica-
tion. In this capacity he made the friendship of Lord Ashley
(afterwards Earl of Shaftesbury) and became his personal secretary.
In spite of the distractions of work and politics in the busy years
that followed, he found time for the pursuit of science and philo-
sophy, and in 1690, after seventeen years' labour, published his